UCL Astrophysics Consolidated Grant 2015-2018

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Physics and Astronomy


We now know that not only is our Universe expanding, but that it is expanding at an ever-increasing rate. Fuelled by a mysterious driver
called Dark Energy, galaxies, such as our Milky Way, are rushing away from each other at such enormous acceleration that not even the powerful
force of gravity can hold the universe together.

Researchers in UCL's Astrophysics Group are putting to the test these discoveries with an ambitious programme of research for the coming years.
A map of 300 million galaxies that astronomers will put together using the Dark Energy Survey over the next decade will be combined with a new chart of the Cosmic Microwave Background from the Planck satellite to understand the conditions in the early universe, to detect the tiny mass of the Neutrino particle and to test Einstein's theory of general Relativity on the largest scales. Our astronomers will use the LOFAR radio telescope to study the era long ago when the first stars and galaxies formed and sculpted ionized bubbles within the gas that permeated the Universe.

We will probe how stars form from vast gas and dust clouds and how the chemistry that goes on between the stars affects and controls these
crucial processes, by studying molecules and dust in our own Galaxy, in nearby galaxies, and in distant, very young, galaxies located at the edge
of the Universe.

We will study the lives of massive stars and their deaths in giant explosions called supernovae and how these massive stars enrich the Galaxy
with the gas and dust required to make new stars, new planets and even life itself.

None of this can be done unless astronomers continually improve the instruments with which they carry out their studies of the heavens. UCL's
instrument makers are aiming to create lower cost optics for future infrared telescopes in space and to develop sophisticated new techniques
that can be used to deliver incredibly high angular resolutions on space telescopes observing at infrared wavelengths.

Astronomers need to model the universe that they study with ever more complex mathematical techniques. So UCL's computer experts will generate the sophisticated models, running on supercomputers, that are needed to understand the wealth of observations that are pouring in. They will also generate the basic atomic and molecular data with which to simulate the conditions in the early Universe, in evolving galaxies and in the stars and planetary systems that inhabit the galaxies. These new data will be used in particular to interpret and understand observations of the atmospheres of exoplanets as they pass in front of, and behind, the stars that they orbit.

But all of this will be wasted unless our fellow citizens get to share in the wonder and excitement of our group's work. So we will ensure that our
team members continue to explain their work through talks and lectures, through public events, and through the media, inspiring the next
generation of scientists, helping and challenging industry to develop new technologies, and ensuring that our understanding of the Universe becomes ever deeper and wider.

Planned Impact

Our Group will continue and develop its current Knowledge Exchange and Outreach programmes, which are described in detail in our 2-page Pathways to Impact document.

For Knowledge Exchange, we will have the professional support of UCL Business (for IP support) and UCL Enterprise (for entrepreneurship training, mentorship and access to venture capital). The transfer of the results of our innovation is being achieved as follows:

(i) By providing accurate and complete molecular data to Industry and to researchers in other fields - this has proved particularly successful with our water and methane line lists, which are extensively used by industry and by modellers of Earth's atmosphere and climate. Current and future applications include the design of high temperature gas sensors; modelling non-thermal rotational distributions of H3+ in storage rings; measuring the refractive index of humid air in the IR; high speed thermometry and tomographic imaging in gas engines; and of course atmospheric models.

(ii) By working through OSL's three main technology transfer firms, Zeeko, OPTICS Glyndyr, through which research level optical design and manufacturing processes are transferred to Industry. They work closely with Industry to establish the link between detailed surface topography and functional performance in order to improve performance or reduce cost, or both. Examples include the semiconductor sector (polishing of large-area display components; the transition to photolithography in the EUV), the defence sector (advanced weapons and surveillance sites; imaging systems for UAVs, head-up displays),
light-weight optics for remote sensing, the high-power laser community (including laser-fusion) and the automobile sector (use of head-up displays in cars).

(iii) By working with commerce, research design labs and other academic areas to produce new technologies, e.g. by enagaging with the new Satellite Applications Catapult on the compact LOw Cost Upper atmosphere Sounder
(LOCUS), which promises to transform the economics of Earth observation missions and provide a cost effective method of monitoring long term trends in the climate.

(iv) By continuing to work with leading IT vendors to test and design new hardware and software solutions which will eventually end up in the marketplace. We are playing a leading role in setting up an Industrial Engagement Database that will connect DiRAC researchers with STFC Innovation and TSB funding calls, TSB Catapult Centre facilitated industrial projects,
and Industry-HEI/RC projects.

Our Outreach Programme will continue to build on its current strong foundations. These include www.ucl.ac.uk/youruniverse/ and www.ucl.ac.uk/star/outreach/themindofuniverse. We have a Work Experience Programme for 16-18-yr-olds and a programme of school visits that provides popular talks on a wide range of topics. Our ULO teaching observatory at Mill
Hill has a regular programme of public open evenings, as well as daytime schools visits, bringing several thousand visitors annually, with a tie-in with the BBC's Stargazing Live. We will continue to draw upon the professional support of the UCL Public Engagement Unit, www.ucl.ac.uk/public-engagement, both in terms of training and access to award-winning events such as 'Science Show-Off' and 'Bright Club'.

We have attracted extensive international media coverage for the discovery at our ULO Observatory of a bright supernova in the nearby M82 galaxy, the closest Type Ia supernova in over 40 years, and for press releases linked to Science and Nature papers on supernova dust and molecules, and on young galaxies at the edge of the Universe, as well as for ESA press releases on Planck results featuring UCL researchers. We will continue our prominent programme of media appearances, talks and podcasts. In engaging with the press, we will continue to have strong support from the MAPS and UCL Communications and Media Relations units.


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Description Since its inception in April 2015, this grant had produced 850 publications as of March 3rd 2020. The papers cover a large range of science, given that this is a Consolidated Grant having seven different funded projects. The Dark Energy Survey has completed a significant fraction of its survey and has produced a large number of papers which are reflected in the total output of papers for this grant. Large numbers of papers on Herschel and Planck results continue to be published by us, as well as papers on stellar, circumstellar and supernova physics, on astrochemistry and star formation, on molecular data for exoplanet studies, and on astronomical instrumentation studies.
Exploitation Route The results will and have been used to influence the future research carried out by ourselves and other astrophysicists.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL https://www.darkenergysurvey.org/news-and-results/press-releases/
Description The Group conducts activities intending to reach out to the public and private sectors and we have collaborations that are leading to technological, scientific or commercial developments, e.g. Tennyson's Exomol programme has established links with Technical University of Denmark and Servomex plc, who use linelist data to model spectra of gas emissions at the top of smokestacks for environmental monitoring. Exomol data also contributes to atmospheric and climate models; Viti has a collaboration with academic chemists to produce experimental and theoretical surface chemistry reaction rates; DES, Planck and Euclid projects are linked to multiple industrial contracts, some of which have UK industrial firms developing processes to meet instrument specifications. We have developed a very active Artists in Residence Programme: http://www.judygoldhill.com/ http://www.janegrisewood.com/ http://andycharalambous.com/
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

Title Duo update 
Description Duo is a general variational diiatomic molecule nuclear motion program. It has been updated to provide the inner region of an R-matrix treatment of ultra-low energy collisions. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2018 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact Calculations of ultra-low energy collisions: original test on Ar -- Ar 
URL https://github.com/Trovemaster/Duo
Title ExoCross 
Description A post processor for ExoMol (and HITRAN) data 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2018 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact This program is being widely used to post process ExoMol data 
URL https://github.com/Trovemaster/exocross
Title TROVE 
Description A new version of the code TROVE was developed which explicitly included the symmetry of methane. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2013 
Impact The production of linelists for methane and silane 
URL https://github.com/Trovemaster/TROVE
Company Name Blue Skies Space Ltd 
Description At Blue Skies Space Ltd, we aim to break the current bespoke, publicly-funded model for astronomy and astrophysics missions and employ a commercial approach to create new opportunities for cutting-edge science. Our vision is to enable cost-effective, quickly-delivered scientific instruments for users worldwide through a service-based model. 
Year Established 2014 
Impact Our first project, the Twinkle Space Mission, will carry unique instrumentation designed to analyse the atmospheres of exoplanets and give radical insights into worlds orbiting distant stars. The Twinkle satellite will be based on a tried-and-tested structure, built by the world-leading space company, Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd.
Website http://www.blueskiesspace.co.uk/